Community comes together for cemetery beautification project

SNELLVILLE - Thanks to a community effort, the final resting place of many of Snellville's patriarchs will be better protected and beautified.

Last week, officials dedicated a fence around the Snellville Historic Cemetery, which is located next to the Snellville City Center on U.S. Highway 78.

Councilman Bruce Garraway, who resigned last week to run for mayor, spearheaded the project a year and a half ago, asking citizens for contributions.

"I believe this fence is more than something that looks nice around a historic cemetery," Garraway wrote in an e-mail. "The fence project by City Hall speaks of commitment to the community. It resembles a transition of the past and the future. It says, We care about the Snellville families that have gone on before us and have been of part of shaping the values of this community."

According to Interim City Manager Jim Brooks, the largest contributor wished to remain anonymous, but the city found support for the nearly $60,000 project from families who have loved ones interred at the cemetery.

Clark Britt, whose father, mother, sister and two brothers-in-law were buried at the Snellville plot, and his family collected more than $1,000 for the project.

"It was instilled in us by our parents to take care of the cemetery," he said, adding that he still tends the family resting places in several cemeteries.

Britt's father, W.C. Britt, was a well-known school principal. W.C. Britt Elementary School, which is near the cemetery, is named in his honor.

"I remember when I was a little kid, we could hear a bell ringing off in the distance," Clark Britt said. "People would ring a bell when someone passed away, and all the farmers would gather and help dig the grave."

Britt said he was touched by Tuesday's dedication ceremony, and he said Garraway and all the "old Snellvillians" who participated in the restoration should be commended.

"Cities place so much importance on the future, the significance of the past is often overlooked," Garraway said. "This is about preserving Snellville's rich history.